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Behav Neurosci. 2003 Apr;117(2):369-80.

Activation of the visual cortex in motivated attention.

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National Institute of Mental Health, Center for the Study of Emotion and Attention, University of Florida, Gainesville 32610, USA.


Functional activation (measured with fMRI) in occipital cortex was more extensive when participants view pictures strongly related to primary motive states (i.e., victims of violent death, viewer-directed threat, and erotica). This functional activity was greater than that observed for less intense emotional (i.e., happy families or angry faces) or neutral images (i.e., household objects, neutral faces). Both the extent and strength of functional activity were related to the judged affective arousal of the different picture contents, and the same pattern of functional activation was present whether pictures were presented in color or in grayscale. It is suggested that more extensive visual system activation reflects "motivated attention," in which appetitive or defensive motivational engagement directs attention and facilitates perceptual processing of survival-relevant stimuli.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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